The Wicked Deep was atmospheric. It practically oozed sea water from its pages. I absolutely loved the story line – especially the ending!
Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…
Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.
Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.
Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.
Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.
But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.
I mentioned before that it is atmospheric, but it is just done so well. It almost covers us in this blanket of trepidation and eerieness. Not to mention that the story begins with a fabulous hook!What really swept me away was the interaction Ernshaw makes between the past and the present.
(Also did I already say that I absolutely love stories about witches and magic?? ALSO this review will have all the magic and water puns, just a disclaimer right now).
In many ways, this book reminds me a bit of The November Girl combined with The Fifth Petal in all the best ways. It has the same suspense of The November Girl and similar ideas to the The Fifth Petal.
But you say you haven’t read either of those? Well The Wicked Deep has this enchanting interaction between the past and the present. While the original Swan sisters were killed for being ‘witches’ every Swan Season (loved this pun) there’s almost another pseudo-witch hunt looking for the girls who have been taken over by the Swan sisters.
Themes and Writing
On a thematic level, I just couldn’t get over how apt it was and how much it demonstrated the power for ‘modern society’ to draw right back into the lulls of persecution. A lot of times I hear people say, “we would never do something like that in this day and age”. But here’s this example of the ways in which subtle things are tweaked and here we are again hunting witches.
We are drawn in the same way the tourists are to Sparrow, Oregon. (I literally have a note in my review notes: what a great lens). The town is stepped with mystery and there’s this dangerous allure to looking for danger. It’s this similar desire to search for the witches in the woods, to find loch ness, and to tempt fate.
This book puts us under a spell by asking us if we are resigned to be stuck in this cycle forever? Are we continuously stuck in this rinse repeat motion? How do we break this toxic relationship? Ernshaw does a phenomenal job at drawing parallels between the past and present with these alternating chapters of the past from the perspective of the Swan sisters.
It builds to this deafening crescendo like waves breaking against the sand in a moment of frenzy and anticipation. The story is enchanting – equal parts sorrow and grief balanced by moments of hope and love. It is truly a magical book.
Find yourself a copy of The Wicked Deep on Goodreads.